Lots of fun last Wednesday in the West Desert of Utah. I was in the Rush Valley at Pit n Pole with Joe, a local member of our club and a very good astrophotographer. I was there for more Herschel items and I have to say, even though the Herschel galaxies can be small, some of just fantastic to observe for details!
I'm going not exclude some items from each observation except for seeing in the Antoniadi Scale, since it started out as a III and went to a I that night.
Date: April 14 to the early morning of April 15, 2010
Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley Utah
LVM: 6.9 to 7.1 (I get my new SQM on Tuesday for my 45th).
Eyepiece: 13mm Stratus (21mm Stratus), 5mm Hyperion, 2x barlow, Orion Ultrablock Filter
My first object was Saturn and I had excellent views at 57x, 92x and 240x. I'll post more on that later.
Object: NGC 3945 Barred Spiral Galaxy
Const. Ursa Major
RA 11h 53m 2s
Dec +60 43
Size: 5.9' x 3.9'
At 57x the galaxy is clearly evident with a bright core and a diffused halo. At 92x the core becomes quite bright and surrounded by both an inner halo and with averted vision a circular fainter second halo. It has a bright star 12mag to the NE and a fainter 13 mag to the SW. The two stars from the core form an equilateral triangle. No hint of arms or other structure.
Time: 05:53 UT
NGC 4041 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 12h 02m 2s
Dec: +62 08m
Size: 2.6' x 2.6'
XT10, 13mm Stratus
Very stellar core, small tight core surrounded by a halo that is just slightly darker than the core. There is a hint of detail here but I can't get it out., teasing me or my eye is teasing me (more likely). That outer dimmer halo could be a hint of arms and mottling but I can't get it out with the 10. Averted vision is a must with this object, showing a larger area and the hints I discussed.
NGC 4036 Lenticular Galaxy
Time: 05:34 UT
RA 12h 01m 4s
Dec +61 54m
Very bright lenticular galaxy at 92x shows a dim, circular bright stellar core. Sitting west-north-west to east south-east. Core is small, halo around the core is brighter and cylinder shape/cigar shape with some bulging near the core/middle. Both NGC 4036 and NGC 4041 are in the same FOV so I sketched them together.
NGC 4041 DSO image
NGC 3242 Ghost of Jupiter Planetary Nebula
Seeing I, Clear and Cold
RA 10h 24m 8s
Dec -18 38m
Size 45" x 36"
XT10 13mm Stratus, 5mm Hyperion, Orion Ultrablock NB Filter
At 92x the Pn shows with direct vision easily with no filter. Its central star is visible at 240x and is an inner shell with averted vision. This object will also increase in size at 240x and takes magnification well if your sky allows it. No color evident for me tonight outside of a bright white. This would be a wonderful PN for first time observers to see to know what to look like as long as they realize not all PN's are this stand outish.
Pit n Pole Rush Valley UT
Seeing: I Clear and Cold
NGC 3115 Lenticular Galaxy in Sextans Spindle Galaxy
RA 10h 05m 2s
Dec -7 43m
Size: 6.9' x 3.4'
XT10, 13mm Stratus
This is an excellent lenticular galaxy sitting NE to SW. The core is really bright, much brighter than the surrounding halo with some mottling. No arms evident. Wonderful object with lots of detail to view. As was pointed out to me on Cloudy Nights, there is no mottling on this object, what I saw was the central ray that runs through this galaxy at 240x.
NGC 3166 Mixed Sprial Galaxy
Time: 07:34 UT
Rush Valley UT
Seeing: I Clear and Cold
RA 10h 13m 8s
Dec. +03 26m
Size 4.6' x 2.6'
Beautiful field of view with stars and 2 galaxies clearly visible, third (NGC 3165) is visible with averted vision. Very pretty in my opinion, my favorite of the night. NGC 3166 is a roundish galaxy with a very bright core. The halo surrounding the core is just slightly darker on the outer edges while the same color next to the core. The halo diffuses into a possible third halo that extends in a east to west direction. Averted vision shows the outer halo. Hint of NGC 3165 as a "Messier Smudge" as I call fuzzy objects to the SW with averted vision. In the same FOV with NGC 3169.
NGC 3169 Spiral Galaxy in Sextans
RA 10h 14m 2s
Dec +3 28m
Size: 5.0' x 2.8'
Smaller than NGC 3166 it lies almost due east of NGC 3166. NGC 3169 has a small stellar core with a halo that is faint and round. Looks elliptical to me.
DSS of NGC 3169
NGC 3166 Image DSS
That's it for today. I'm heading out tonight so hopefully more this week. I'm off track which means I have this week off work so if the skies are clear I am going out! May your transparency be sharp, your skies clear and your instruments working flawlessly, and may you enjoy the wonders of our Universe!
Edit: I did not get to go out tonight. Far too many high clouds blocking my view of Leo and Leo Minor (my next target). Now at 12:00a.m. MDT, the skies have cleared with heavy scintillation, a 4 on the Antoniadi Scale at minimum, possibly a 5. I'll try again tomorrow night.